Deadwood rings in the Chinese New Year 2023 with culture and tradition

This Lunar Year hops into the year of the rabbit
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 4:28 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Chinese New Year 2023 is an annual event that celebrates the beginning of a new year rich in customs and traditions. Also referred to as the the Spring Festival and the year of the rabbit, which actually rang in on Sunday, January 22nd with family gatherings marking the biggest festival for reunions and an opportunity to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Even though the Chinese New Year is filled with cultural traditions, some even have a connection to the city of Deadwood. Tia Stenson-Cunningham, an archivist from Deadwood History, Inc. joined us to talk about the sacred traditions that come along with this new year.

Stenson-Cunningham says, “it’s a 15 day celebration which started on Sunday, January 22nd and ends with a lantern festival on February 5th and according to Chinese culture, a monster name Nian would only appear on New Year’s Eve to eat people and many traditions are based on ways to scare Nian away such as wearing red and fireworks”. She also explains what the year of the rabbit symbolizes. “The rabbit is a symbol of hope and long life and 2023 is predicted to bring prosperity, hope, and calm to the world”.

She reminds us that the date of the new year does change every year because it is based on the cycle of the moon and it always falls somewhere between January 20th and February 21st and each year has a reference to a particular animal in the Chinese zodiac. However, the Lunar year for the Chinese holiday did start on January 22nd.

She also gave reference to the rich historical background the city of Deadwood has to the Chinese New Year. In the 1880s there were over 100 Chinese living in Deadwood. The Chinese new year in Deadwood was special because it was a celebration for everyone not just the Chinese and stores like the Hi Ki and Wing Tsu made food to give away to any customer. Fee lee Wong, who owned the Wing Tsu had 8 children, 2 sons, and 5 daughters who were raised in Deadwood and educated in the public schools. The last official celebration was in 1912 and revived by Miss Kitty’s Chinatown restaurant.

Deadwood will be hosting it’s annual Chinese New Year youth party on Saturday, January 28th from 11am to 1pm. This event has something for everyone, however, it always takes time to educate the youth by teaching them bout the Chinese New Year, playing games, and creating year of the rabbit themed crafts they can take home.

There will also be a special red envelope ceremony with materials donated by Edith Wong, the great-granddaughter of Fee Lee Wong and lunch will be provided by Jade Palace.

Please make sure to make reservations as they are required. Click on the link to view the full interview. You can call 605-722-4800 for more information or to reserve your seat.